Database of Architectural Records:
An inventory of records at the Houston Metropolitan Research Center, Houston Public Library
Database records describe architectural jobs executed by architects primarily in the Houston and surrounding areas. The date range of the architectural jobs is from 1873 to 1995 and the types of structures vary from buildings of one story to skyscrapers, modest homes to opulent mansions, the Astrodome, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Houston grew during this period from brick-paved streets to multi-level freeways, from an economy based on lumber, railroads and cotton to petroleum and the products and services necessary for its production, medical services and aerospace. Houston changed from a growing Southern city to an international city with worldwide impact.
The database records the work of architects and engineers who vary from immigrants who never completed high school to highly trained college graduates. A few have immediate name recognition while knowledge of many has been obscured by the passage of time. Several have been recognized for their work while most labored in the shadows. Each contributed to Houston and this database is an effort to record their work.
Each record in the database describes the contents of one roll or folder of drawings that pertain to one specific architectural job. Information in a record generally includes the collection number, the architect’s name, a job number assigned by the architect, project name, the key number assigned by the software and, if the drawings have been inventoried, descriptions and quantity of the drawing contents, and perhaps the date and address of the structure.
The records are primarily of working drawings or blueprints of structures in the Houston and surrounding area. Some architects worked outside of the Houston area before or during their Houston career and those drawings are included also. As a result, there are records of buildings in New York, California, Florida and elsewhere.
The information in a record relates to a particular project and usually has a job number assigned by the architect. The job number could be consecutive while chronological records reflect the year of the commission, and some job numbers describe the project. The job number assigned by the architect groups the drawings for a project. Usually a project has just one job number but infrequently several numbers could be assigned to different portions of the same project. Some structures were so extensive, or the work was distributed among several different organizations, that several groups of drawings with the same job number were necessary to completely describe the necessary construction work. Projects are generally independent of each other with exceptions such as major business centers or tunnels, which connect several buildings.
The structures recorded in the database cover the spectrum of human design. Homes range from modest residences in subdivisions to mansions in affluent areas, one story auto garages to skyscrapers, civic buildings such as convention halls, zoo buildings, parks, airports, city hall, hospitals, sports stadiums, commercial structures from auto showrooms to department stores, elementary schools to university halls, clinics to hospitals, motels, hotels, parking garages, tunnels, fountains, restoration of historic structures, and libraries. The records describe the drawings needed to construct what has been designed including maps, sketches, renderings, plot plans, surveys, foundation plans, structural framing, floor plans, elevations, sections, details, electrical, mechanical, plumbing, utilities, roof plans and landscaping.
The life works of an architect comprise a collection. This could range from one project to several hundred.
Permission to publish or reproduce materials from the Database of Architectural Records must be obtained from the Houston Metropolitan Research Center or the appropriate copyright holder.
Database of Architectural Records. Houston Metropolitan Research Center, Houston Public Library.
The database records are based upon information found on architectural drawings. The drawings were acquired by donation, either by the individual creator, succeeding family members, heirs or organizations involved with the architect. Architectural firms ending their business lives have also donated drawing collections.
Processed by: Several archivists, staff members and others have entered information into the database over a multi-year period.